Looking back over his childhood, Harry Potter might attribute his modest and unassuming nature to the series of cramped rooms he slept in during his years at the Dursley household. But rather than a lumpy pad on cinder blocks in a cupboard under the stairs, you might want better things for your own children.
Muggles and sorcerers alike, kids grow up fast. They grow up healthy when they have enough good quality sleep in a proper bed. Choosing the right bed can mean the difference between a weary and cranky child and one who is rested and ready for school each morning.
But which bed is right for your son or daughter?
Before You Start Your Search
As a parent, the right bed can save you many headaches down the road. But just as important is choosing the right mattress.
We’ve already written some handy resources helping you to find your perfect mattress, including how a mattress works on the inside and how your sleep style should affect your decision.
You should spend just as much time picking out a mattress as you do picking out a bed.
Beyond the mattress, what most distinguishes a toddler bed from the big kid bed your six-year-old demands is a headboard. Here are the most common styles.
That’s right, sometimes a bedframe is all you need. Most twin-size metal bedframes are adjustable, so you don’t need to shop for a replacement if you decide to upsize the mattress and boxspring. If propping big, comfy pillows against the wall loses its appeal, you can always choose to buy a headboard and attach it to the bedframe at a later time. Most headboards come ready for this possibility.
A classic style, panel beds have a simple headboard, full-length rails and often a footboard. These beds are modest in size and allow for clear visibility underneath the bed, making it easy to scan for monsters and kids who don’t want to go to school. Panel beds with slats between the rails (also known as platform beds) eliminate the need for a boxspring.
Bookcase headboards offer shelves for alarm clocks, journals, trophies, toys – anything your kids hold dear. Even books!
Pier beds take the bookcase headboard to the next level, acting as both an extended headboard and a nightstand. They often feature drawers and cupboards in addition to shelves.
Harry Potter may be an extreme example, but kids normally get the smaller bedrooms. And when rooms are small, space comes at a premium. Beds with storage options make it easier to keep the rest of the room clean and clutter free, which makes parents feel better, too.
Clothes, toys and extra sheets can all disappear from sight in the sturdy drawers underneath a storage bed. Other benefits include no more straining to vacuum or sweep underneath, and fewer lost toys and socks.
Want double the storage? Captain’s beds offer two levels of drawers underneath. Though preferable for kids who are slightly older and less likely to roll around in bed as they sleep, such beds are a more efficient use of square footage. Most also don’t require a boxspring.
Loft beds are another great use of space. A loft bed is like a bunk bed without a lower bunk. The free space underneath can be used for a desk, a futon, a dresser or many other bedroom items.
Multiple Sleeping Spaces
Your grandparents may have scared you with stories of having shared the same bed with two or three siblings, but there are better ways to accommodate multiple kids in the same room.
Some beds offer smart, space-saving solutions for when you have more than one child to account for or if you regularly host sleepovers.
If your child’s bedroom has enough drawers and closet room, then why not use that space under the bed for something more useful – like another bed? Sliding along the floor and fitting flush underneath the bed frame, trundle beds are the perfect solution for sleepovers. Or, if your kids are inseparable, help them foster lifetime bonds by spending the odd evening in each other’s company.
So much room for activities!
To the mind of a child, the bunk bed is the limousine of bedsteads. While your kids will delight in having their own skyscraper of shuteye, you’ll also enjoy the efficiency of housing two children in half the floor space.
There are three common ways to get to the top:
- Built-in: Ideal for older children with greater mobility, these three- or four-step ladders are built right into the frame to save you space.
- Angled: There will be no more monkeys jumping on these beds, but angled ladders make it a bit easier for monkeys to do what they love second best: climb.
- Stairs: A bunk bed with stairs is the simplest and safest way for kids to climb to the top bunk. Some even offer storage drawers within the stairs.
Who says that the bottom bunk is never any fun? A twin/full bunk bed gives the bottom occupant extra sleeping space.
Or what about when the novelty wears off and your kids want their own rooms? Look for a bunk bed that de-couples into two matching twin beds.
Bunk beds also present a few potential hazards that you should consider before buying one:
- Ceiling height: Is there enough room for your child to sit up on the top bunk without bumping his or her head on the ceiling? Be sure to measure your space in advance to find a bed that’s as comfy as it is practical.
- Parent height: Will you be able to change the bedding on the top bunk without much difficulty?
- Ceiling fans and sconces: You might have the right ceiling height, but are there any low-hanging fans, lights or curtain rods that your kids might decide to play with or disrupt?
- Safety first: Guard rails along the top bunk should rise at least five inches above the mattress.
Hocus-pocus, alakazam! Find me a bed that’s as nice as I am!
It won’t be long until your own kids get ready to leave for Hogwarts. Or at least for a nice big room in the basement.
So spend a few moments to think back to the special beds of your own childhood as you select a bed for your kid that offers the same sense of lifelong enchantment.